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Film in Review: London Has Fallen

Continuing from where we left off from last week, class, we now move on to the next Gerard Butler film, London Has Fallen – a movie that, at its best, is both worse and grander than its first entry Olympus Has Fallen. It’s a movie of knives to heads and Skype calls to anyone and everyone. It’s a movie of American anti-terrorism platitudes and f-bomb witticisms. It’s a movie where each location and character is given a title credit for audience reference.

It’s a movie that could only have been better had it been made in Wakaliwood (Google that – you’ll love it).

Mike Banning – the secret service agent who just about single-handedly saved his best friend, U.S. President Asher, mostly by stabbing skull after skull – is back to do it all again. And boy, is he “thirsty.” This alone ought to make most action fans excited, as Banning can best be described as a man straight from a ’90s Steven Seagal flick, perhaps as a retired friend of Seagal, who is world-weary and cynical about everything. Everything except America. I imagine flags adorning his weaponry of an apartment, where he spends his days chugging down protein shakes and remembering the good ole days, just waiting to be called to duty.

London Has Fallen, possibly taking its title from a high school level playing of words on the song about London Bridge “falling down” (which I believe happens in this movie), is pretty enjoyable for what it is, over and over again: dumb, blunt action. When those British guards with the funny hats start indiscriminately shooting at world leaders and crowds of civilians, or when Banning throws a guy out of his car for swearing at him (and for being a baddie), the movie is rockin’. The absurdity and silliness that could’ve saved Gods of Egypt last week makes London Has Fallen a B – Z grade schlock success — so successful, I want to listen to Andrew W.K. right now and do some solo fist pumps.

Taking the bad with the sort of good, cheapness run amok on screen, beyond the fun. There are only so many clearly fake explosions and blood splatters I can watch without calling foul. Without calling lame. Without pulling me out of the glory. Some shots remind me of Birdemic, others of Who Killed Captain Alex?, movies made not from the same cloth as London Has Fallen (or with its budget), but with the same heart, which is of a great size. This heart has a sweetness for the art and process of storytelling through film, no matter the skill involved or lack thereof. Would Ed Wood be proud? Probably. The men behind Canon Films would be.

Michael Bay dreams of accomplishing movies half this entertaining. London Has Fallen keeps up the slope of action going the way of bro, where stories are secondary and as easy to absorb as a stamp of acid, and action is nasty and profound. Well, pronounced, anyways. Bro Action sounds like something that would make me angry, but when someone like Gerard Butler is giving his all into it, playing a role that requires smart-ass energy without the time or inclination to be clever, I can’t help but smirk. Technically, this is smaller scale than the first. Its effects are laughable and script more so. However, it all compliments righteous and ultra-violent, crowd pleasing (which is scary to think of) kills and one-liners that the average Joe could come up with. This is a movie for the average Joe, as a matter of fact. Johnny Punch Clock and Sammy Six Pack. Would it be reaching to wonder who they might vote for this year? Should I even try?


Does Mike Banning keep his knife in a skull holster? I’m asking for a friend.


2.5 / 5 *s


For more from the author, follow him on Twitter at @BillReviews and at patreon.com/billreviews.


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